Tips For Adulthood: Five Ways To Stay Monogamous

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood. This week’s topic is Five Ways To Stay Monogamous.

I think we all know that this hasn’t exactly been the summer of matrimonial bliss. From Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to author/radio personality Sandra Tsing Loh to our about-to-possibly-be-impeached Senator Mark Sanford, marriage has taken a real kick to the groin. In all of these cases, infidelity was the alleged culprit.

Not everyone’s bothered by infidelity, of course. Newsweek recently ran a story about poly-amorous couples and how people make it work when there’s more than one partner involved.

And some people are more bothered by it than they arguably should be. In this month’s in Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan rants against the cultural trends leading to the likes of John Edwards’ mistress Rielle Hunter. (See also Amy Benfer’s deliciously scathing review in Salon.)

But assuming you count among those who are interested in sticking it out with one person, here are some tips for keeping it real – as opposed to Rielle (sorry, couldn’t resist):

1. Acknowledge That Monogamy is Totally Unnatural. Face it, it is. Which is probably why so many people have affairs. Polls show that although 90% of married people disapprove of extramarital relationships, 15% of wives and 25% of husbands have experienced extramarital intercourse. This doesn’t mean monogamy isn’t noble, enviable, worthwhile, efficient, healthy, and any other adjectival “good” you wish to throw at it. But it is not a natural state of affairs. So begin by acknowledging that with your partner and you’ll be way ahead of the game.

2. Choose a Partner With Whom You Share Many Interests. In my humble opinion, one of the main reasons people wander is that they don’t have enough in common with their partners/spouses to begin with. While you don’t need to have completely overlapping interests (see below), with so many things clamoring for your attention – work, children, aging parents – you do need to enjoy doing the same things in your free time.

3. Keep a Private Space. At the same time, don’t suffocate one another. It’s healthy to have your own space and to enjoy the freedom to pursue interests that your partner doesn’t share. My husband likes watching concert videos. He also enjoys eating sushi. I like pop-tarts and going to musical theatre (though not at the same time). We don’t try to do those things together. Thank God.

4. Develop an Adult Crush. This is perhaps the best recipe for staying faithful. Just as you had crushes in junior high, it’s OK to have them in adulthood as well. It’s a safe way to feel like you’re still alive outside of your main relationship. I used to have a crush on my son’s first pediatrician. These days, it’s a staffer at one of the local book stores. I only see him once every other month or so, but there’s always a small frisson when we exchange pleasantries (most recently, over his hatred – and my love – for The Sound Of Music.) And because I only see him every so often, and don’t even know his name, it’s no big deal. Plus, my husband knows all about him.

5. Avoid Situations That Allow for Infidelity. If you really don’t want to have an affair, don’t put yourself in a situation that allows one to occur. I have a good friend who developed a crush on a bartender. She found (per #4) that she was frequenting his bar more and more on her own to chat with him. Then one day she actually brought her laptop to the bar and started working there. And at that point she realized “What am I doing? I’m working in a bar!” She fled the scene never to return. Good for her.

Image: Rings/Yüzük by Caucus via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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  • Reply Gina

    August 13, 2009, 6:30 pm

    GREAT ideas! Thanks for this post!

  • Reply Anita Wagner

    August 17, 2009, 4:09 pm

    How refreshing! Your down-to-earth, realistic perspective on this subject is sorely needed – I hope you are widely read.

    I am a polyamory advocate who believes and says frequently that monogamy is a fine choice and works much better for some people. I also write at some length about your point number 1, not so much to justify polyamory as to help people untangle their feelings (guilt, shame, uncertainty) about their interest in seeking a polyamorous life. I’m a big fan of anthropologist Helen Fisher, whose books tell the real tale of why we love, how we choose our partners, why we stray, the whole story.

    As poly relationships go, we certainly follow your first four out of five points, though we don’t limit ourselves to a crush as in #4. As to #5, some quite happily put themselves in situations where a new/additional partner might be met.

    BTW, I was monogamous until my mid 40s and was married and divorced twice in the 20th century. Cheating happened in both marriages, and one reason I chose polyamory afterward was that I no longer wanted to be in a situation that was condusive to the heartbreak of cheating found out. So I’m well versed on the challenges of making monogamy work. Admittedly my marriages would have fared better had we been more skilled at monogamous relating. Polyamory works great for me largely because I’ve developed the skills to make it work. I teach those skills at conference to help others make the transition.

  • Reply delialloyd

    August 17, 2009, 8:11 pm

    Fascinating stuff, Anita. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply bill

    April 28, 2010, 6:47 pm

    Laziness… to lose weight, eat less and exercise more! yet our country continues to be overweight as a majority. So top apply this here, it is work to be a monogamous. It is a concious decision. It is easy to cheat on a spouse and women do it as easily and often as men. So stop being so lazy, work at being a respectable person with backbone and the tenacity to do the right thing.

  • Reply Shannon

    April 29, 2010, 1:23 pm

    I think you don’t have to have too many interests and hobbies in common as long as you have the same morals and beliefs. My husband and I were raised pretty much the same way and have the same idea when it comes to marriage and raising a family. We also enjoy doing things in our free time together, but there are also hobbies we have on our own or free time we like to spend with our friends. I think too many young married people lose their sense of self when they get married, because they are with each other 24/7 and it can feel suffocating and lead to thoughts of “escaping”. My husband and I both support each others hobbies and are very happy in our marriage.

    • Reply delialloyd

      April 29, 2010, 1:27 pm

      Thank you Shannon. I fully agree. There’s an “immersion” mentality that can be suffocating. It’s much healthier to have some space, as long as you’re on the same page on the important stuff.

  • Reply BryceH

    April 29, 2010, 2:29 pm

    Good post and good comments.

  • Reply Jen

    April 29, 2010, 6:12 pm

    Hi Delia
    Thank you for your honest and refreshing thoughts and comments. A friend of mine and I have always discussed the difficulties of marriage in a general sense, and monogamy. Our discussions always seem to lead us back to the basic human fact that we all need space and a break from anyone in our lives. We all have friends for one reason or another that we need a little break from once in awhile. This is not looked upon as a “bad” thing, we aren’t judged poorly when this happens either. However, in a marriage if you just need a break etc, there is all kinds of negative feelings, reactions and stigmas attached.
    So our conclusions are always centered around this strain on human nature NOT to be able to take a break from someone that is attached to views of marriage in general, is what sometimes leads to unhappiness and straying.
    Its not natural to be with one person for a long time and not need some kind of space, change or break in the relationship. We do this all the time with other people in our lives and throughout our lives, it’s natural and a big part of our human make up.
    So I AGREE with all your points 100%, especially that monogamy isn’t natural; it’s wonderful but not always attainable. I think because of this fact some very loving and otherwise healthy relationships are destroyed; and perhaps unnecessarily. I think more marriages would survive a lot longer if they subscribed to your points and relaxed on their expectations overall regarding marriage and relationships therein.
    Thank you again for your keen insights.

  • Reply Chuck

    April 29, 2010, 7:07 pm

    Finally a breath of fresh air and the truth about monogamy! It is extremely unnatural. Thank you for your wonderful article!

  • Reply monogamous

    April 29, 2010, 9:10 pm

    I’d like to know on what you’re basing your claim that monogamy is unnatural. If it’s the same old lame “other animals aren’t monogamous” argument, well, you’re mistaken. There are other species in the animal kingdom that are, in fact, monogamous and stay with the same mate for life. If you’re going to make a claim like that, you should back it up with some kind of evidence, other than the fact that there are a lot of cheaters out there.

    The problem is not that monogamy is unnatural (because it is), the problem is that too many people choose to be (or attempt to be) monogamous with the wrong person. People get married too young or too soon, or for all the wrong reasons, and eventually realize that the person they’re with is not someone they can spend their lives with. Monogamy is perfectly natural, you just have to do it right.

    • Reply delialloyd

      April 30, 2010, 10:15 am

      @monogamous-it is my own personal view, based on my understanding of human nature. But I do agree with you that people often choose the wrong person, often when they are too young. and then hold themselves to a set of expectations with that person that are simply unrealistic. thanks for dropping by!

    • Reply PreciousFruit

      May 2, 2010, 10:16 am

      I have to agree.
      The problem is we married the wrong person therefore faithfullness to the marriage is not possible.

  • Reply Jim

    May 2, 2010, 1:45 am

    Did you ask God if it was natural or unatural for couples to be in monogamous relationships?

  • Reply ron

    May 2, 2010, 3:12 am

    Not only with the wrong person but for the wrong reasons: to please family, financial survival, emotional dependence, fear of being alone, because everyone else is, seemed like a good idea at the time. OTOH, my excuse for fear of commitment stems from the threat of neglect, loss, death, in short, of the relationship ending, which all do, sooner or later. I believe living examples of close, long-term
    intimacies have been in short supply. Ultimately, partnering remains a choice for each of us. Thus, self-knowledge and desire to make and keep our promises and then accept the consequences remains the challenge of maturity in a culture of accumulating things and immediate gratification.

    BTW: Cheat with someone richer, smarter, better looking, maybe famous. Makes more sense in competition and eases the insult. Also, forgiveness is for the forgiver. Who wants some jerk renting free space in our heads?

  • Reply Rosie Camacho

    May 2, 2010, 4:05 am

    “Acknowledge that monogamy is totally unnatural” You make that sound like a fact and then 18 days later, you state that it is only your opinion.
    I would really like to know where you get your expert information from. I hope it is not from the so-called sex expert Alfred Kinsey (aka masochist and pedophile.
    Your attitude is totally irresponsible. Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise.
    A healthy marriage does take work, but the partners stay healthy and in the end the rewards are many.

    • Reply delialloyd

      May 2, 2010, 10:04 am

      As I said in response to an earlier comment, Rosie, these are my own beliefs about monogamy, no one else’s. And while I think monogamy is difficult to achieve in practice, I think it’s a worthy goal to shoot for (as the post suggests.) Thanks for stopping by.

  • Reply Teresa

    May 2, 2010, 4:27 am

    I agree with most of your points, but the reality also is if people stayed committed to their original “covenant” they would stick things out through thick and thin regardless. Things happen in life, accidents that cause sexual relationships to be interupted or left incapacitated for life……it’s all about love. How to recommend being in a relationship where my spouse spends about 50-60 working with his partner all day long,has hardly anything left for me by the time he gets home and balance that with him “having his space”. We get to spend about 1.5 full days together weekly. Doesn’t help to keep connected if you have to still “find your space’…..

    • Reply delialloyd

      May 2, 2010, 10:05 am

      I agree that the situation you describe is a difficult one, Teresa. With that much time devoted to work it’s amazing he has time for anything, including himself! Good luck and thanks for stopping by.

  • Reply Cudds

    May 2, 2010, 7:11 am

    Bill makes a good point. To the writer of the article…why are you only responding to women?

  • Reply delialloyd

    May 2, 2010, 10:07 am

    I’m not. I’m responding to Silda Spitzer (per initial dialogue with a colleague on this topic) as well as to my many (female) friends who’ve confided to me along similar lines over the years. I certainly don’t think that men are the only ones who cheat and/or bring about the end of marriages. But I do think that women tend to take more responsibility for such things and to blame themselves when things go wrong. Statistically speaking, it’s also true that men stray more than women. Thanks for coming to visit.

  • Reply Louis

    May 3, 2010, 12:29 pm

    All good except #1.

    Ask yourself if this makes sense:
    Monogamy is Totally Unnatural. 85% of wives and 75% of husbands have not had experienced extramarital intercourse.

    Monogamy is natural for most of us. Not being monogamous is natural for some of us. The world is complicated.

  • Reply monogamous

    May 3, 2010, 4:59 pm

    Thank you for pointing that out, Louis. A MINORITY of people, according to that poll, have extramarital affairs. I don’t see how that equates to monogamy being unnatural, when MOST people are perfectly capable of being faithful in a committed relationship.

    Thanks for responding to my comment, Delia. But as another commenter pointed out, you present your opinion as fact. You may want to be careful of that in the future.

    • Reply Nena

      May 4, 2010, 3:30 am

      You say that Delia is presenting her opinion as fact, I assume because she didn’t use disclaimers in stating her opinion, but you’re doing the same thing, are you not? I don’t see that you’ve prefaced your statements about monogamy being natural with an “I believe…” or an “In my opinion…” You do a similar thing with the animal kingdom comparison (a bit of a strawman argument since Delia didn’t make that comparison), calling it “lame” (which it is) but then using animal kingdom examples to bolster your own argument.

      Throughout history and persisting to this day, in many different countries and diverse cultures, plural marriages and non-monogamous relationships have been and are commonplace and accepted. In primitive human societies – a much better indication of what’s “natural” for humans than animal behavior – monogamy is rarely the norm. In the Western world today we don’t mate for life. If we did, we’d all still be with our first sweethearts and divorce would be unheard-of. Most of us practice a kind of “serial monogamy”. We have multiple partners – “mates”, if you will – but we have them in succession rather than all at once.

      Being “capable of being faithful” is not the same as being “naturally monogamous”. Personally, I don’t think that human sexuality is something to which natural/unnatural applies. There is too much diversity not just regarding monogamy but in virtually every aspect of sexuality that there is no set of interests and practices that even a slim majority of us share. We big-brained humans have the ability to consider the context in which we find ourselves and decide how we’re going to interact with it.

      You’re absolutely right that people marrying too young, for the wrong reasons or to the wrong person is the reason that marriages fail, and I’m sure that these things also contribute to philandering. There are very few married people out there who have never had a lustful thought about someone other than their spouse. If you’re in an unsatisfying relationship, you haven’t got a lot to lose if you go for it. If you’re in a good relationship with someone who is important to you, you’re going to worry about losing your good thing and be more inclined to keep your fly zipped.

      • Reply monogamous

        May 4, 2010, 5:14 pm

        No, I’m not doing the same thing. I was simply asking her on what she based her statement that monogamy isn’t natural.

        I then said “IF” it’s the same lame excuse that I’ve heard other people use about the animal kingdom, that she was mistaken, because that is a faulty excuse. I could only assume that was her reasoning since she didn’t offer any explanation as to why she thinks monogamy is unnatural. She just says it like it’s a fact we all have to get used to.

        Maybe I didn’t offer a link or something to support my statement that there are other monogamous animals, but I’m just a commenter, not a blogger. I don’t need to back up my comments with evidence. If I were to write a blog about the subject, I would most definitely provide evidence to back up my claims. And that’s all I ask of any journalist or blogger.

  • Reply Dave

    May 3, 2010, 9:34 pm

    Very interesting and well written article. I have let my wife sleep with whom she chooses for years now. Our requirements are 100% transparency and total communication. Our marriage is hotter than ever now; one reason for this is that I feel I need to be at the top of my game to compete with her lovers. I of course, have a built-in advantage as I know her better than anyone!
    Our arrangement puts a sizzle in our marriage that most spouses could only dream about and causes her to be much choosier about her lovers.
    I feel we have the best of both worlds, a red hot marriage and the occasional thrill of the new.

    • Reply delialloyd

      May 3, 2010, 9:39 pm

      Thanks Dave. That sounds pretty unusual! I’m not sure many people would be comfortable with that arrangement but if it works for you guys, more power to you!

      • Reply Dave

        May 3, 2010, 9:43 pm

        I used to think we had a very unusual arrangement but, like the saying goes, there’s really nothing new under the sun. I have found a surprising amount of people who have a similar arrangement. Because of what society thinks of this, we don’t go public, but we are out there.

  • Reply Susan

    May 4, 2010, 1:30 am

    I have to say that I find it a little sad that you base your ideals on the minority ” 15% of wives and 25% of husbands” cheat… well HELLO that means that most of us 85% of wives and 75% of husbands do not cheat….making this the norm, not the exception. Reading your article, it also feels as though you are making excuses for the minority that cheat. We should rejoice in the fact that so many are loyal and know the meaning of respect and vows, rather than make excuses for the pitiful few!

    • Reply delialloyd

      May 4, 2010, 7:40 am

      with all due respect, susan, i am not trying to make excuses for anyone. indeed, the title of the article is “5 ways to stay monogamous.” but thanks for dropping by and sharing your views.

  • Reply Tyrone Jones

    May 4, 2010, 3:28 am

    I disagree with your claim that monogamy is unnatural. Stats can always be bent to support a certain point of view. You used them to prove your point. I will use your stats to prove my point: Did you know that 85% of women and 75% of men have never experienced extramarital intercourse! That’s a MAJORITY of the men and women in monogamous relationships. MAJORITY determines the norm, not minority. I learned that in Kindergarten. By the way, my wife and I have been married 10 years this June, with three kids, and one more on the way. We are happier now than when we began, and things just keep getting better. Marriage to someone you love is probably the grandest thing ever invented, I highly recommend it!

  • Reply Liz

    May 7, 2010, 10:24 am

    Delia, I think you pitched your tone just right. You acknowledged that some couples choose polyamorous arrangements, and then went on to offer suggestions about how people who want monogamous relationships can go about pursuing them.

    Having shared values & interests is probably important for both monogamous and polyamorous relationships. People in open/polyamorous relationships still have every incentive to want to meet as much of their partner’s needs as possible.

    I think it’s important to make a clear distinction between consensual polyamory (by mutual agreement) and cheating. There is no excuse for cheating, and if someone agrees to be monogamous then they’re obliged to do so. This obligation is no less if they’ve previously been polyamorous, either in their current or in a previous relationship.

    I’m wondering if perhaps some monogamous people would be more willing to accept that polyamory is a valid choice for other people, if they could be confident that this doesn’t reduce their own right to be safe from being cheated on. In fact, if anything, if monogamy is correctly viewed as optional then this is all the more reason why there’s no excuse for someone who makes the *choice* to agree to monogamy and then breaks that agreement.

  • Reply monogamous

    May 7, 2010, 7:53 pm

    I actually agree with Liz! Even though I choose to be monogamous and believe it’s a perfectly natural way to be, I don’t have a problem with polyamory or even polygamy (I really don’t understand why it’s illegal, as long as it’s consensual). It’s not for me, but if other people are ok with sharing their significant other with others, more power to them.

    • Reply Dave

      May 7, 2010, 8:39 pm

      If more people were as accepting of others views as you, the world would be a happier place!

      • Reply monogamous

        May 7, 2010, 8:43 pm

        Yeah, I bet you get a lot of crap about your lifestyle. Who cares what other people do with their own lives as long as it’s what they want and it’s not hurting anyone? Some people just worry way too much about stuff that’s none of their beeswax! If you’re happy with your life and your arrangement with your wife, then that’s all that matters.

  • Reply Moodie Blues

    May 20, 2010, 7:48 pm

    Great article.
    I really agree with your statements!
    I’m a very loyal married man with 2 kids and I might be able to shed some light on why more men cheat.
    We select our life mates usually by attraction and common interests. Most women want the fairytale wedding with the white dress, so we please our wives by letting them have this ridiculously expensive day. After the wedding, Romance and fun is still present. Then come the babies. This is when everything changes. The husbands are put on the back burner until they boil over and end up doing something they regret. I’m willing to bet that most divorces come after the fact that kids come into play. I think monogamy was imposed on humans my religious moral and law!

  • Reply Peter Evanworth

    May 27, 2010, 9:24 am

    If gay marriage is recognized, then polygamy must be, because more people are hetero and a majority of hetero men would favor the latter than the former for their own lives. But notice the Republicans aren’t using this argument to stop gay marriage and the Democrats are proving that heterosexual males mean nothing to them by pushing only for the gay marriage stuff that doesn’t effect most Democrat male’s desires. Meanwhile, even though social conservatives are now in the minority of Republican voters, the GOP will back down on the first because it is actually less threatening to them than polygamy. SocialCons want to control hetero males first and foremost.

    Cheating would happen less if US men were not pressured relentlessly to date “age appropriate” which causes too many beta males to stupidly ignore the women who turn them on in favor of initiating a relationship with someone who “does it for them” less but is easier to convince to be his girlfriend.

    Men tend to be lazy. A man will often go with the woman who calls him or at least easily flirts with him. But to get dates with the women who most turn them on, men would have to exert tremendous effort (at least emotionally) and face a huge chance of rejection (the happiest single men with the best social lives are brutally rejected by an achingly gorgeous woman at least once per day). The best looking women often put up tremendous barriers making men work hard to convince them to date them. Most men refuse to do this…but they will regret this later. It really is worth it to push down the barriers of a 10 rather than ease comfortably into a relationship with an 8 (subjective rating).

    I’ve learned as a man to go only for relationships where I have to wonder “what would she see in me” and have to worry all the time about losing her. This means I have to date above my class or “out of my league”. Most men do NOT do this. They fear rejection and settle for comfort. They won’t date out of their league and this is a mistake for them and ultimately bad for the women they end up “settling for”.

    So a 35 year old man might comfortably settle in to a relationship with the decent looking but not stunning woman his own age who has made it so easy to be his best friend, calling him as much as he calls her. While he is dating this new woman, he is subscribed to a Sorority Sisters webcam site, which is where his true interest lies. But he will be too chicken to go to the local college for a Friday night party at a frat house, even if he could pull it off. He might try it once and fail to get a girlfriend and then he will rationalize “they are too young”. He will marry the “comfortable one” but five years later he has learned “game” and finds himself fully able to date coeds as “the professor type”. Think “Mr. Holland’s Opus” with a different ending.

    What he has done is led his friend on and married her because he had been too lazy, insecure and politically correct to go after what would be sexually more interesting for him (yes, a new coed girlfriend would be 30 herself in less than a decade so he’d better pick wisely and/or think about that).

    My formula: if any waitress in any restaurant during the first few dates is someone a man would rather have sex with, he needs to stop dating the woman he asked out and ask someone like that waitress out.

    Some feminists might not like what I just wrote.

    They would say that the men should actually be politically correct in his initial choice of asking a woman out on a date! In other words, feminists themselves have been setting things up for failure at the get go (since the 80s when they turned 40). Look at the way they despise men who date young Russian women.

    They would say that a woman’s career accomplishments should matter so the 35 year old businessman should have no business asking out the waitress at the black tie party with all the accomplished businesswomen around him. They will falsely say that the man who would ask out the waitress “can’t handle” the businesswomen around him.

    Nonsense: the waitress could have a 4.0 average at Cornell. He will be choosing someone at the height of her fertility (evolutionary biology) and she would be choosing a man who is at the point of being willing to settle down. The men who have the guts to go for whom they want, secure better marriages.

    But this completely devalues the feminist idea that it is OK to delay marriage into the 30s while building a career first. When I was 33 a successful 39 year old woman was totally shocked when she invited me to dinner at the mansion she had bought and her 19 year old daughter chose to stay home and compete with her. Why had our foolish culture not taught her that this was normal?

    It is in older women’s interest to consider polyamory over losing out in all or nothing battles with younger women. Women who work so hard to make monogamy the only way not to be “pitiful” are fighting a rear-guard action with shaming tactics. Men really don’t care about someone they are not attracted to calling them “pitiful” unless a new anti-male law is saying this in its preamble (think the new IMBRA law forcing men to be background checked before meeting Russian women online).

    And these people need to have the weapon of “she should take the house and is money in revenge” taken away from them. The Nanny State has no business taking sides on this. Smart men are refusing to marry until the laws and courts become less anti-male.

    Also, the Republican Party – which relies on the male vote and opposition to the Nanny State – needs to drop hatred of playboy males from its platform and from the minds of its grassroots action leaders, who are often insecure married women. The GOP needs to be about small government and not even a little about regulating or punishing mostly men for sex. Fox News should not have bothered about Monica Lewinsky. That “scandal” caused a lot of males to stop voting GOP while it brought a lot of Hillary supporters into the GOP. This has resulted in Sarah Palin, calling herself a feminist, actually being seen as a leader of the Republican and Tea Party platform.

    Also, if Spitzer will not be charged for being a john, than New York State needs to drop that anti-male law entirely. In 6000 years of history, the customer was never considered a criminal in that profession. This new trend in the US is severely anti-male. In Sweden this anti-male nonsense exists as well, but the men are only fined $2000 discreetly (the government doesn’t even tell their wives), not labeled felons.

    Nobody represents men in US politics anymore.

  • Reply JustSayin'

    July 13, 2010, 2:42 pm

    (((big sigh)))Sexual dissatisfaction within the confines of a long-term relationship is due to laziness. And mostly, mental laziness. (sprinkle in a little sexual immaturity)

    While your statement that monogamy is unnaturally may let many who are heavily embedded in refusing to make their lives truly fulfilling off the hook; as stated by others, it’s an opinion that isn’t accurate.

    I believe a modification to point #4 would solve a lot of problems and make it easier for all of us who have committed themselves in a long-term relationship to find happiness, contentment and sexual satisfaction ‘unlike they have ever experienced in their entire lives’.

    #4 (modified version) – Develop an adult crush – on your partner. Spend the time and energy to ‘be sexy’ to your partner (this is something that both men & women should do). Place enough importance on the relationship to be sexually expressive and imaginative. Become sexually ‘mature’. Understand that a happy marriage requires a strong, active sexual relation with your partner. Just like success in the workplace requires you to be business-savy. Take the time to hone your skills, assess strengths & weaknesses and develop into the sexual god or goddess your partner needs (and deserves, if they have been so kind as to devote their lives to you). Require more of yourself. Also help them develop in this manner as well, it will benefit both of you exponentially. (and it can be down-right fun. OMG, another shared interest?)

    While I am at it, #5 could use a revision as well. Understand that desire towards infidelity is a marker, a red-flag, to let you know you (or your partner) are lacking something within the sexual relationship with your partner (or you). Use that highly valuable information to pinpoint the lack, so you are both able to address each others needs, sexually and emotionally, in a more fulfilling manner. The desire to stray is just an indication that there is a need not being effectively addressed. By trying to suppress that feeling, you remove the opportunity to grow from it. Discuss it with your partner in a non-threatening way. Explore what might be have been missed or overlooked – and then both get down to the business of overcoming it by sexually relating with one another with that new knowledge.

    To this list it is unfortunate that you left off #6. Develop rules of engagement. Any successful endeavor reaches it’s ultimate level of success based on effective adherence to the rules for success.

    a. Find a way to never say ‘no’ to your partner sexually. There are so many different levels of sexuality and forms of sex you can engage monogamously in. Make this a strong rule and both work at never breaking it. It will make both of you feel honored and respected. (just as an example… if my hubby is too tired to engage in intercourse after a long, hard day at the office, he loves laying on the bed ‘posing’ for me so I can fulfill my desires without physically taxing him. He’s gotten quite good at it.)

    b. Remove outside influences from your life and mind. Society has stolen our sexual health. We have so much impersonal sexual garbage shoved down our throats constantly that we have come to accept it as the norm. It doesn’t have to be. AND… it doesn’t add to our sexual healthiness. The beauty of a monogamous relationship is there is a freedom, an acceptance, a ‘never be rejected’ safe haven from which we can find complete and total sexual satisfaction, because of the nature of the monogamous relationship… sans the lazy thinking. (Is it really more sexually fulfilling to masturbate while hiding in your bathroom with your smart-phone instead of standing buck-naked on top of your bed expounding to your partner how much you sexually desire them????) Take back your sexual freedom and sexual health.

    c. Make your partner the single focus of your sexual desire. Our minds truly are incredible organs. The strength within our mind usually will never be completely realized within most people’s lifetimes. If you only focus sexual fulfillment on your partner, your mind will condition itself to that stimuli. The benefit of that stimuli is that it is real. (if someone who has wandered into s& m can only be sexually stimulated by being beaten, if the mind is THAT strong, then I think the rest of us COULD find sexual fulfillment by utilizing our life-partner as our sole focus for sexual fulfillment effectively… think about it.)

    My hubby is an average-looking, middle aged 40-something. I’m sure most women wouldn’t even notice him walking down the street. But to me… to me he is the full and complete embodiment of male sexual god. By only using him as my point of sexual reference, he becomes all I know of sexually. And it becomes extremely sexually stimulating for me. Mind-play? Yes, but it has so many intrinsic benefits. With the commitment to marriage came the decision to be with one person sexually and emotionally ‘for the rest of my life’. I can either do this while feeling like I’m missing out on imaginary could have’s. Or I can find a way to make my engagement with him the most sexually satisfying it could possibly be. My own personal ‘end all-be all’. I’ve chosen the latter, well, because real is better than imaginary ‘every single time’.

    Delia, monogamy is natural, it’s just not easy, at first. We live in a drive-through society. We should love ourselves enough not to settle for less-than-excellent! We should demand more – from ourselves – from our partners – and from our lives. As humans, we are highly sexual beings. We should embrace that, apply it to our monogamous relationships and work to be more sexually fulfilled than ever thought possible!

    Just sayin’

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